feb 18/BIKE

bike: 35 minutes
bike stand, basement

Snowed 2 super slippery inches last night. That, combined with my slightly sore ankle, meant I needed to bike in the basement today. No sun. No gorge. No birds chirping, although I can hear them outside of my window. Also, no wind. No frozen fingers. No falling on slick ice. Finished the last 20 minutes of the final episode of Cheer. Time to find another show.

Notes on Un-Apology/ Erin Slaughter

once I owned a wooden door
& a field of ice & I was big-hearted, gentle, prefaced
my friends’ names with sweet & kissed them
on the cheeks. once a man called me brilliant & all I wanted
was to be his little wife. for him to trap me
in a wooden home, to zip me up pretty, kiss
me in the kitchen while mushrooms screamed & withered
on the stove. I am beginning to think of the color green
as a last chance that has already passed & I’m sorry
to be so full of raining. but if I could carve a notch
into the lampposts of this city for every person who said home
like it was a promise. we are fools & monsters, all of us, cobweb-headed
& waiting for rupture. once I met a man & his words
unearthed a softness that only comes from loam, from tilling
gently at a gravesite. sometimes we talk about weather
& sometimes we talk about feelings. sometimes
I worry I’m not looking for love, that I’m looking
for a religion to have sex with. in my mouth lives a bitterness
that could draw blood, & I’m sorry but two years I searched
for the river & when I finally found it, it was dead with its palms up.
I dipped my hands in its broken jaw & called it sister. I haven’t spoken
to my sister in two years, a nurse in Texas
with a daughter & a cruelty that jingles
like silver on a charm bracelet. I want to tell you starfish, I want
to tell you dark orchids climbing the windowpane.
the moon would drown trying to drink up
all the things I want. I’m sorry you never learned
the recipe to my mornings. I still think of you when the sky shudders
& floorboards hush themselves to listen.

Wow. I remember reading this poem a year ago and really liking the last line: “& floorboards hush themselves to listen.” Why didn’t I post it? Reading it again a year later, I love it even more. “sometimes we talk about weather & sometimes we talk about feelings.” I think I want to make that a title for a poem. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about inner and outer weather and the dis/connections between the weather I’m running in and my mood.

feb 17/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around
33°
85% clear 15% ice covered

Note: Today, I’m trying something new. Usually I type up these log entries directly into wordpress. Today I tried dictating the entry into my notes app, then editing it slightly. It was difficult to speak my thoughts, partly because I felt self-conscious with other people in the house and partly because I find it easier to write my thoughts. But I need to learn how to do this because looking at a computer screen is getting more difficult and more tiring on my eyes. Maybe I’ll always be able to use the computer and see the letters, but I’d like to experiment with different ways to speak and write and think that don’t rely on vision. I was thinking of trying this dictation method for a month–maybe even trying to dictate the notes directly after my run, at the gorge.

This entry was slightly edited, with extra words and redundant phrases taken out.

The wind was coming from the south which meant that as I was running north it was at my back. Much easier running towards the trestle. I knew that it would be hard on the way back and it was. It was slightly sunny but not super sunny and at one point I saw my shadow. Not clear like it usually was; it looked more like a ghost, faint. I heard some kids down in the gorge. Probably by the ravine, maybe hiking around the exposed sewer pipe or the ice cave that is created in the winter by the seeps and the dripping water. Felt fast running north. I didn’t feel the wind at my back but knew that it was easier. Encountered a few runners, some walkers. One walker, an older white man, wore a fluorescent yellow vest. I saw him twice. I heard the grit under my feet. I don’t think I heard any geese but I did hear some crows cawing as I started. The river was partly frozen over but mostly open and it looked beautiful and still and desolate. The run back was difficult, the wind right in my face. I sprinted up the final hill and felt very tired and hot and sweaty. Overdressed. I chanted triplets. I started with Sycamore Cottonwood one lone Oak but that didn’t do it for me so then I chanted Gooseberry Mulberry raspberry raspberry mulberry goose berry raspberry blueberry blackberry raspberry blueberry blackberry and that helped me keep a steady pace.

lateral malleolus = all a sell out realm

On Saturday, I slightly rolled my ankle as I was moving down from the walking to the biking path. It is a little sore, but not painful. I am pretty sure it will be fine but I’ve been reading up on the ankle and foot to prepare myself. New fact/word: the bony knob on the outside of your ankle is called the medial malleolus. The knob on the inside is called the lateral malleolus. Tried turning lateral malleolus into an anagram. The first phrase that I could come up with that sort of made sense: All a sell out realm

feb 16/RUN

3.35 miles
river road, south/north
19 degrees/feels like 11
15% ice-covered

Ahhhhhh!! Winter running! Not too cold but cold enough to be able to breathe in fresh, cold, crisp air. A mostly clear path. Not too much wind. Not too many people. Everything quiet, still. Saw at least three people walking their dogs down on the Winchell trail. Encountered a fat tire biking alongside a runner. A few pairs of walkers. One or two other runners. Don’t remember hearing any birds cawing or chirping or honking. Not much traffic noise. Thought I heard some sloshing or dripping water at one point. Marveled at my new favorite view just past the oak savanna. One problem: I don’t remember there being so many bare trunks here between me and the river. Am I remembering the wrong spot? I love how the flat hill at the savanna–we call it the mesa–curves down to reveal the river.

triple berry chants

Did some triplet chants again: all berries. Without thinking, briefly chanted blueberry/ blackberry/ red berry. Then wondered why a raspberry is called a raspberry and not a red berry and why blueberries are called blueberries and not something else. Found a buzzfeed article that was a little helpful: The Delicious Origins of Summer Fruit Names

Here’s what is written about raspberries:

Like the strawberry, the raspberry isn’t a true berry in the biological sense of the word. And also like the word strawberry, we don’t know what its rasp- is about.

The word raspberry is found relatively late in English, attested in the early 1600s. An earlier form, raspis-berry, might give clues to its origins. In Middle English, raspise was a sweet, pink wine, possibly from the Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys. But this raspeys remains unexplained. Suggestions include the French rasper, “to scrape,” referring to the fruit’s rough appearance, and an Old Walloon word for “thicket.”

The listicle also mentions gooseberries and mulberries. And further down, it happens to mention the tree, sycamore. Another satisfying triplet. Maybe I’ll chant: gooseberry/raspberry/mulberry and then some trees: sycamore/cottonwood/? Need to think more about a third triplet tree.

to float, to haunt

At some point, thought about the article I read earlier this morning about the biomechanics of the run and the “double float” phase, which is when both feet are off of the ground. I usually think of this as flying but is also cool to think of it as a floating. What else floats: clouds, hot air balloons, ghosts, bodies in water, buoys, bubbles. I like the idea of being a ghost, floating and haunting the trail that I’ve traveled so many times in the last five years. Haunt is such a wonderfully rich word: to frequent, visit often; to continually seek the company of; to trouble; to reappear continually in; to visit or inhabit as a ghost; to stay around or persist, to linger; a place habitually frequented

feb 15/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
32 degrees
99% clear path

I forgot to save my log entry before clicking out of it and lost it. Bummer. Here’s the abbreviated version: Greeted Dave the Daily Walker on the run and he called out, “What a beautiful day!” Yes, it is. Warmer. Some sun. Clear path. Strong legs. A mostly frozen river. Wind in my face heading north, wind at my back returning south. Final sprint up the hill. Encountered dogs, walkers, runners, fat tires. Don’t remember any smells or sharp sounds. Felt very warm with a flushed cheeks and a sweaty forehead.

feb 14/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Slightly warmer. Only felt like -26, not -29. But the wind was blowing. So blustery! Tomorrow it should be much warmer. In the 20s, I think. Decided to workout in the basement again. Watched almost all of the final episode of Cheer. I can’t believe I made it to the end without the ending being spoiled. I can’t imagine competing under such pressure. I have never enjoyed the intensity of performing when it counts or the high you might get from putting yourself under such pressure and then achieving greatness. Is this a bad thing? Do I fail to push myself enough? Are there other ways to understand how we might push and stretch and challenge ourselves outside of this model of performed greatness? Do these questions make any sense?

I listened to my playlist again as I ran. At one point, I stared at the reflection of a big round lightbulb in a dark window. Last month I mentioned that it looked like the moon on lake superior. Today I noticed something at the top of the reflected globe of light that looked like clouds. Then I thought about how I usually imagine or see clouds at the bottom of the moon, not the top. Is that accurate? Suddenly, I imagined that the moon was upside down, or the world in the window was right side up and the world in the basement, on the treadmill, was upside down. Strange. Even stranger while running in place on a treadmill matching my foot strikes to the beat of the music.

What Kindergarten and Partial Hospitalization Have in Common/ IZZY CASEY

Assigned: seats, affirmations, adults with anorexia nervosa.

Breakfast, supervised.

Crying all day long because small things feel like big things.

Drumming drums in a circle, droning, “don’t be so hard on yourself,” disappearing the ability to desire.

Every body’s invited, every “cloud” has a silver “lining.”

Flushing a chocolate chip cookie down the toilet and taking a huge dump on it, fear of growing.

Growing

Hairs in weird places.

“I’m telling on you.”

“Just let someone know if you go to the bathroom. Don’t go alone.”

Knowing there’s a chance you’ll need to come back and do it all over.

Lunch, supervised.

Mental math, milk monitors, mindfulness of breath.

Nurse Eye Patch haunts your wake.

Ordering onion rings at the Olive Garden Field Trip, since the overseers claim opera cake isn’t in budget.

Perishing into fits over whether you get your second cookie, third, or fourth.

“Quit running, quit shouting ‘where are the fucking cups,’ question your definition of ‘friend.’”

Refusing to get up off the floor and participate in Dance Circle with the other girls and boy.

Singing “Let It Be” with the boy during music hour, then all together.

Taking turns: with the triangle, talking with your mouth full.

Unaccompanied dinner.

Validation that you are one of the biggest losers.

Withholding from weeping in public on the long walk home.

Xeroxed handouts of Dr. Phil’s “On Choosing Forgiveness” equals confetti.

“You’re the child not the parent.”

Zookeeper’s Nightmare.

I love Abecedarians and this is a great one. Powerful in this form. Abecedarians are fun to write. My only problem: the dreaded x. There are only so many x words to use. Maybe I should make a list or find a list. Just searched, “good x words for abecedarian poems” and this was the first entry: What About X? Writing the Abecedarian. Yes!

feb 13/BIKERUN

bike: 30 min
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill, basement

Hello Arctic Hellscape! This morning it is 12 below, feels like 29 below. Not quite as cold as the end of January last year (-49), but still cold enough to stay inside. I was tempted momentarily to go to the gorge, just to see if I could tough it out or so I could say that I ran when it was almost 30 below, but I didn’t. Instead I worked out in the basement, watching Cheer while I biked, listening to Nur-D and others on my running playlist while I ran. I have one episode of Cheer left to watch. What am I going to watch while I bike when it is over? Back to race replays?

I did take a brief (15 or 20 minutes) walk at 11 this morning. It didn’t feel that cold. Sunny. Bright. Not too much wind. Then I turned a corner and felt the full force of the arctic chill on my face and got a brain freeze. The kind you get when you eat ice cream too fast. In college in Southern Minnesota in the 90s, out on the tundra, I would usually get one of these cold weather induced brain freezes every winter. Fun. It’s strange to have a familiar sensation (the brain freeze) but out of context (not from eating ice cream). Is there a name for that phenomenon? The other example that I often think about is the few times I’ve been in earthquakes, when it feels like turbulence but you’re not on a plane. It feels familiar even when it isn’t. I tried searching for this. No luck. I tried “a familiar sensation felt strangely” and got a lot of hits for deja vu. For the first time ever, I tweeted at Merriam Webster and asked them: “Is there a word for feeling familiar sensation but out of normal context, like feeling brain freeze but from cold wind, not eating ice cream too fast? You know the feeling but experience it strangely.”

What a nice surprise to randomly find this little poem:

Five Flights Up/ Elizabeth Bishop

Still dark.
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions—if that is what they are—
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins . . .
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.

The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner’s voice arises, stern,
“You ought to be ashamed!”
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.

Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
—Yesterday brought to today so lightly!
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift.)

The dog barking in its sleep–only once; questions being answered simply by day itself; the enormous, ponderous, meticulous morning; the dog and bird feeling no sense of shame; “yesterday brought to today so lightly!”. Such lovely lines.

feb 12/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge turn around
32 degrees
10% snow-covered

A gray day. A little wind. Warmer weather. Decided to turn right at the river instead of left. Wanting to see my new favorite view: the spot at the edge of the oak savanna when the river is revealed. This view is not possible in the spring and summer, when the leaves are back on the trees. Today, I barely saw it because of the 3 or 4 walkers passing by right at the same time I was approaching it. Boo. The run felt hard on sore legs. Did my triplet chant again: raspberry/ blueberry/ blackberry. Passed a hiker climbing out of the gorge near 42nd street. Heard another one still down on the lower trail. Saw a dog or two. At least one other runner. No fat tires.

I have been thinking about erosion for the past few days as I’ve been wondering about openness and openings and the gorge and its many seeps and leaks and fissures and cracks. Yesterday I wrote in my notes: erosion creates more room/ wearing down faulty foundations/ carving out new spaces I’m trying to figure out what to do with the idea of erosion and its positive and negative connections with unlearning/ becoming undone. Scrolling through my twitter feed, I found out about Terry Tempest Williams’ new book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing. Yes! I must check this out.

While reading an interview with Williams, I encountered this quotation by David Orr from his commencement speech, “What is an Education For?“:

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

feb 11/RUN

5 miles
stone arch bridge, one way
25 degrees
50% snow-covered

After noticing how pretty it looked in the (bohemian) flats yesterday afternoon, decided to run north on the river road to stone arch bridge today. Scott had a meeting downtown, so he could drive me home. One way runs are great. Yesterday afternoon the path looked clear and dry but it must have snowed a little last night because a lot of it was covered in soft, slippery, energy sapping snow. And, there was a blustery wind too. Still a great run. Still very glad to have done it.

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker as I ran up from under the lake street bridge. Admired the curved wall and fence on the Winchell Trail between the trestle and franklin bridge. Noticed the river flowing quickly. Not looking slush slow today. Reaching the bottom of the hill, running past Annie Young Meadow, I heard water gushing through the limestone cliff, close to where a mudslide had closed the road for almost 2 years. At the top of the hill near the turn off to Wilson Library at the U, the sun came out and so did my shadow. Hello friend! Then I noticed the river was no longer brown but blue. Not steel blue but blustery blue. Beautiful. Attempted to run up the steep hill with the I-35 bridge. Made it about halfway, then walked a few minutes. Ran again all the way to the stone arch bridge and watched the roaring, choppy, churning water of St. Anthony Falls.

Had some thoughts about my How to Be project and the ways running fits into it but cannot remember them now. Right before heading outside for the run, I thought about the importance of surrender. Paying attention by letting go. Not trying to control but to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, I just remembered something about my run. To regulate my pace and breathing, I chanted. Strawberry/ Blueberry/ Raspberry. Over and over again. One foot strike for every syllable. As I ran down the franklin hill I decided that blackberry fit better than strawberry and chanted that: Raspberry/ Blueberry/ Blackberry. I chanted this mostly in my head. A few times, I mouthed it and at least once, I whispered it. Very helpful in keeping me steady and in a dream-like state. Considered switching in other 3 syllable words but never did.

Triplet Words/Rhythms/Dactyl Meter

  • Beautiful
  • Terrible
  • Wonderful
  • Mystery
  • Decadent
  • Diffident
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Quest
  • Telephone
  • Underwear
  • Prototype
  • Punching bag
  • Summer time
  • Radical
  • Reticent
  • Waterfall
  • Avalanche
  • Certainly
  • Understood
  • Icy cold
  • Ignorant
  • Buttercream
  • Factual

Interesting note found in my research about dactyls: “Strawberry (as the word is pronounced in East Tennessee—elsewhere it’s two longs and a short).” So East Tennesseans say it the British way, I think. Speaking of East Tennessee, I was just listening to an episode of Dolly Parton’s America and learned that East Tennessee was originally a part of the Union during the Civil War. Maybe I knew that at one point, but I had forgot.

feb 10/RUN

5.5 miles
Annie Young Meadow and back
17 degrees/ feels like 7
99% snow-covered

It snowed 5 or 6 inches yesterday so that path was covered in mostly packed snow. A beautiful morning for a run. Bright sun. Not too much wind. Blue sky. White everywhere. Saw someone walking down near my favorite part of the path, just above the forest on the rim of the gorge. Heading towards the franklin bridge I took deep breaths of the cold, pure air and tried to stay open and relaxed. Heading down the hill, I marveled at the clouds high in the light blue sky. I’m not good at identifying clouds. Possibly cirrus because they were so feathery but also maybe cirrostratus because they were thin and covered the whole sky. Regardless of what you would call them, they were beautiful. Faint, barely white. It looked like someone had raked their fingers through fluff. The river was slush thick and moving. Cold. After climbing back up the hill, and stopping for a short walk break, I looked up and saw the beautiful wingspan of a big bird, circling high in the sky. An eagle? A hawk? A turkey vulture?

So this Jane Fonda Workout for beginners from the 1980s popped up on my youtube feed this morning. Wow.

So much bouncing. Thinking of trying to get my 13 year old daughter to try it out with me. If this is beginning level, I’m scared to see intermediate.

Speaking of Jane Fonda, she was featured in the most recent podcast of Dolly Parton’s America that I listened to: Dollitics. Wow, I am loving listening to these episodes.

feb 8/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
15 degrees/feels like 5
100% clear

Ran a little later today because Scott and I had to take our daughter to the Mall of America this morning. After a month of begging us, we finally caved. That place is the opposite of the gorge. Tight, confined. Too many people moving too slow and too fast. Too bright. Too many big words everywhere. Too much consumption. Too many sickly sweet, overpowering smells. Energy zapping. Water sapping. Soul sucking. I’ve never really liked shopping but now that my vision is bad, it’s very difficult, especially at the mall. Draining. Today’s trip was one of the better ones. Probably because we only stayed for an hour. There was a moment, near the Rotunda. A dance performance, accompanied by a recording of some cheesy, sappy piano music (some popp-y thing that I should remember but can’t). Passing near the roller coaster, listening to the overly loud, overly sentimental music, watching Scott and my daughter walk ahead, I felt this dreamy, detached sense of joy. Why? Of course, after that happy moment, I had my most disturbing one in Pac Sun: a brand called John Galt is selling a Brave New World t-shirt. Wow.

Felt good to run this afternoon in the sun. Colder today so I wore more layers, including a buff, a hood, and a black cap. Too much. The path was clear and not too crowded with walkers or bikers or runners. Admired the river several times. My best view was about 30 seconds south of the trestle. High up on the bluff, the trees opened up and I had such an open, broad, beautiful view of the river and the floodplain forest and the east side of the river, which at this point, between lake and franklin, is in Minneapolis and not St. Paul. Can’t remember much else about the run. Felt tired at the end, but still sprinted up the final hill. Noticed a dog and its human hiking on the snow-packed path near the 2 fences and 2 walls that I’ve written about. Heard some kids. My feet shuffling on gravel. Some spring-y birds, trilling and chirping. Running out from under lake street bridge, I sensed the shadow of a runner up above on the bridge, traveling across the railing. A cool visual effect. Noticed my shadow ahead of me as I ran north. When I stopped briefly at the turn around, I noticed her hiking on the Winchell trail in the gorge below. Heard some geese, honking away. Couldn’t tell if they were hanging out under the bridge or flying above me in the air.

Thinking about uncertainty and bewilderment in poetry today. Yesterday I encountered–not the for the first time–Keat’s description of negative capabilities to his brother in a letter from 1917:

capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason

So many interesting parallels with my idea of staying in trouble as virtue–staying in a space of (somewhat) uncomfortable, unsettling unknowingness. It makes so much sense to me that I’m really getting into poetry. I like how poetry takes this space of trouble/unknowingness/uncertainty and infuses it with joy and wonder.

This poem! I love Maggie Smith.

Threshold/ Maggie Smith

You want a door you can be
            on both sides of at once.

                       You want to be
           on both sides of here

and there, now and then,
            together and—(what

                       did we call the life
            we would wish back?

The old life? The before?)
            alone. But any open

                       space may be
            a threshold, an arch

of entering and leaving.
            Crossing a field, wading

                       through nothing
            but timothy grass,

imagine yourself passing from
            and into. Passing through

                       doorway after
            doorway after doorway.

Love the line, “any open/space may be/a threshold, an arch/of entering and leaving.” For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the river road/running path as such a treshold, where threshold = beside/s space.